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CU-Boulder led study of smoking twins points to growing influence of genetic factors
Date:11/16/2011

ar timeframe if one twin quit, but among fraternal twins, the percentage dropped to 55 percent, a statistically significant difference that indicates a genetic component at work, Pampel said.

While a specific genetic marker has been hard to identify among those who smoke, certain genetic similarities can be inferred. "If one identical twin quits the other is likely to quit," he said. "And if one twin continues so is the other twin."

The study has implications for current public policies aimed at reducing smoking, which may be becoming less effective, Pampel said.

Since the early and mid 1970s when restrictive anti-smoking legislation began to be enacted in the United States, many smokers have quit. "Prior to 1975 this (potentially genetic) pattern wasn't clear because there were so many smokers."

Two of today's main anti-smoking policies include heavy taxes on cigarettes and vast reductions in the number of public spaces where smoking is allowed, particularly in bars and restaurants, Pampel said.

But with indications that the genetic component is growing, it may be time to treat smoking more like an addiction than a choice, Pampel said. Such a policy shift might include more emphasis on nicotine-replacement therapy and counseling.


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Contact: Fred Pampel
fred.pampel@colorado.edu
303-492-5620
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert

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